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Great Recession spawns big crop of buzzwords

Every year brings with it a host of business buzzwords.  This year, the Great Recession — buzzword alert — made business news everyone’s business for a change.

In 2009, major carmakers didn’t just fall apart at the seams, they entered pre-packaged bankruptcies.

Big banks weren’t just undone by their practice of giving out too many loans to people who couldn’t pay them back; they were stuck with toxic assets.

Many of the giant banks and other companies that dragged down the economy with their poor decisions turned out to be too big to fail.

They didn’t just get a government handout; they received bailouts. Most got funding from TARP, if you really want to get wonky about it.

Every year brings a host of buzzwords and catchphrases that capture the goings-on of the business world. This year was no exception save for the fact that the Great Recession — buzzword alert — made business news everyone’s business for a change.

Of course, when business becomes personal, the personal also becomes worthy of business buzzwords.

This summer we didn’t just stay home, we had a staycation.

We didn’t stop spending money, we became recessionistas.

We didn't just get stuck in a monster traffic jam; we were held up by shovel-ready construction projects, made possible thanks to that massive stimulus package.

At least, that’s what we did on Main Street, which Wall Street — so we were told again and again — just doesn’t get.

That’s most likely because Wall Street bankers weren't spending much time thinking about the little guy this year. Instead, they probably were focused on figuring out what would be the next bubble.

That’s right, now that the housing and stock market bubbles have burst, it’s high time we figure out what crazy idea to overinvest in next. Twitter, anyone?

America's businesses and regular Americans did have one thing in common this year: We were all facing a credit crunch. In plain English, that meant businesses and consumers couldn’t do what we usually do in this country — buy now, pay later — to the degree we historically have.

Of course, this was also a year in which millions of us became unemployed, no buzzwords about it. Many also saw their their hours cut or were able to find only part-time work. In short, they became underemployed.

Whether job-hunting or just getting in touch, we weren’t calling or e-mailing each other in 2009. Instead, we were reaching out and connecting.

But mostly, we were just tweeting our thoughts, feelings, professional lives and vacation plans to the whole world in concise, 140-character snippets.

That’s because people got beyond plain old networking in 2009 and moved on to social networking.

It turns out that social networking is about as complicated as high school, so even those of us who have left our teen years far behind became reacquainted with the complex rituals of that era. If 2008 was the year that you friended everyone you ever knew via Facebook, 2009 was the year you unfriended those people you never really liked in the first place.

Don’t just take our word for it on this one. The New Oxford American Dictionary

The business world was hardly the only place alight in buzzwords this year.

You didn’t have to work in the health insurance industry this year to become intimately familiar with its buzzwords, thanks to the push for health care reform. It seems that everyone had a view on the public option after a summer scare about the potential for government death panels.

Overall, we were a bunch of credit crunched, underemployed, staycationing recessionistas this year, but some of us, somehow, still found time to shop.

And if there was one other thing we splurged on this year — other than a car financed through the  Cash For Clunkers program it was probably an iPhone.

Although iWords have by now become commonplace, we can thank the iPhone for popularizing the word app, a term previously restricted mainly to computer geeks.

Want to know the weather in Bismarck, N.D., find the nearest Thai restaurant in Charlotte, N.C., or pre-order “Going Rogue” on Amazon.com? There’s an app for that.

Want people to stop using buzzwords and start speaking plain English? Unfortunately, there isn’t an app for that.